The New York Chocolate Show never disappoints, and the CH crew performed its annual search for the newest and tastiest chocolates. Our top four picks from this year's show are: Romanicos Chocolate from Miami, Oliver Kita Fine Confections from Rhinebeck, NY, Theo Chocolate from Seattle, and the Comptoir du Cacao from France.
Romanicos Chocolate is the creation of Alejandra Bijai, a Venezualian living in Miami. Her grandmother passed on the gift of truffle making, and Alejandra has evolved her skill into a force to be reckoned with. Romanicos is the most established of this group, and has made their name by not adding sugar or butter to their chocolates, which provides both a smoother, cleaner taste and also exceptionally good truffles that weigh in around 38 calories each (above). The Wild Coconut, Fresh Mint and Passion Caramel are tops. The "Chocolate Art" collection features "exotic" flavored chocolates with designs on top. We loved the Dulce de Leche for its over-the-top taste that wasn't too sweet. Their lactose free Healthy Artisan Chocolate Bars include innovative combinations like Salted Pisatchio and Nutmeg, Wasabi and Honey, and Soy Bean and Sea Salt.
181 Coral Way Suite 116
Miami, FL 33145
Tel +1 305.854.9936 Fax +1 877.848.4857
Oliver Kita Fine Confections is new on the scene. Oliver Kita, a well known caterer in Hudson Valley, NY recently opened this chocolate shop, where he and his team hand make a range of traditional chocolatesâ€”pralines, marzipan, bon bons, ganaches, truffles and caramels. We loved the Mint and Lemon Balm and Shiki Matcha Crunch truffles, and these solid chocolate buddhas (left), available in dark and milk chocolate, edible gold dust optional.
Oliver Kita Fine Confections
6815 Route 9
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Tel + 1 845.876.2665
Theo Chocolate is notable for their ingredients, process and results. Most people don't realize that nearly all chocolates are made from a chocolate base (known as couverture) that is made by companies such as Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, Guittard and Domori. Same stuff you see in the store. Very few independent chocolatiers go through the process of making their own couverture as it is complex, time consuming and difficult. Theo does, and they are the first to do so with Fair Trade Certified cocoa beans. They are also the only roaster of organic cocoa beans in the U.S. They produce single origin bars (the 91% Venezuela Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Bar is a rare, remarkably not bitter high percentage bar); Confections; and the quirky 3400 Phinney bars, which include the Bread and Dark Chocolate bar with toasted bread crumbs and 65% chocolate, and the Chai Milk Chocolate bar, with chai spices and black tea.
3400 Phinney Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103
Tel +1 206.632.5100 Fax +1 206.632.0413
Not bad so far. Ami and I worked our way through the chocolate fanatics and would have left the show quite happy with our new discoveries. And then we found the Comptoir du Cacao booth. This small family run chocolate company makes their chocolate about an hour outside of Paris (where they have a shop). Maybe it was the fact that they were in the States for the first time, and only a few people had the opportunity to discover them before us. Maybe it was the traditional/chic French wood boxes they packed their chocolates in. Or maybe it was the out-of-this-world <<Chocolat et cristaux croustillants de brisures de crêpe dentelle avec croustines Gianduja caramel au beurre salé>> (above right), bite size chocolate-covered crunchy bits with caramel, salted butter and crêpe dentelle (those very fine, rolled cookies that are often served with espresso in French cafés). These little delights got our vote for best in show. The family also makes many other tasty chocolates, and has a line with fair trade cocoa, and a line of chocolates made without sugar. Though not yet available stateside at retail, you can order them from the store or by using the downloadable order form.
Comptoir du Cacao
194, avenue de Versailles
Tel 33 (0)1 42 24 09 58
Also on CH: Chocolate Show Roundup 2005